Sustainable infrastructure can deliver a huge boost to the national economy says the Australian Infrastructure Sustainability Council (ISCA).

ISCA’s study, IS Rating Scheme Return on Investment, found infrastructure projects rated under the IS Rating Scheme will deliver up to $2.40 in benefit for every dollar spent.

According to Ainsley Simpson, CEO of ISCA, the economic multiplier effect for infrastructure expenditure is well documented – but this fresh research underscores an even bigger upside.

“Over the next few years, infrastructure will play a mission critical role in our economic rebound – but we must ensure the money we spend today can be leveraged to maximise environmental, social, cultural and economic benefits tomorrow,” Simpson says.

“Governments know that public infrastructure is a great economic multiplier – and that every dollar they invest in public infrastructure delivers around four dollars in GDP value over the life of the asset.”

“Over and above this productivity dividend, our research finds IS Ratings are set to deliver a minimum of $1.60 in benefit for every dollar spent – and this figure could be as high as $2.40 in benefit.”

ISCA’s IS Rating Scheme was launched in 2012, and has since measured the social, environmental, governance and cultural outcomes delivered by more than $170 billion major infrastructure projects.

The independent cost benefit analysis undertaken by RPS Group monetised benefits such as carbon, water, ecology and air emissions. IS-certified as-built assets have delivered accumulated reductions of 14 percent in energy, 27 percent in water and 31 percent in materials when compared to standard practice.

Simpson says the ROI study does not quantify wider social value such as health outcomes and human capital development.

“Our study makes the business case clear: sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive. Importantly, the non-market benefits of infrastructure should not be limited to major projects. If uptake of the IS Rating Scheme was doubled, the net benefit would soar to $90.7 million. All infrastructure – urban and regional, large and small, new and ageing – can deliver more for our communities.”

“Applying the IS Rating scheme to infrastructure projects trains people to think more strategically across the asset lifecycle, which in turn enhances procurement and supply chain efficiencies.”

“Infrastructure Australia estimates that $20 billion worth of infrastructure projects were delayed, cancelled or mothballed over the last decade due to community opposition. Construction fatigue has put pressure on communities and jeopardised the industry’s social license.

“By mandating the IS Rating Scheme, governments can help us pivot from past practices and invest in sustainable infrastructure that de-risks assets, boosts financial performance and, most importantly, builds a better future for generations,” Simpson says.

Image: The University of Wollongong’s Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) has achieved full marks under the world’s toughest sustainability standard for buildings, the Living Building Challenge (LBC). The result confirms that the SBRC building has set a new benchmark as arguably the most sustainable building in Australia. Cox Architecture.